Botanical Name: Elaeagnus formosana
Habitat: Elaeagnus formosana is native to E. Asia – Taiwan. It grows in the thickets below elevations of 2,000 metres throughout Taiwan.
Elaeagnus formosana plants are deciduous or evergreen shrubs or small trees. The alternate leaves and the shoots are usually covered with tiny silvery to brownish scales, giving the plants a whitish to grey-brown colour from a distance. The flowers are small, with a four-lobed calyx and no petals; they are often fragrant. It is in flower from September to December, and the seeds ripen from April to June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. It can fix Nitrogen. The fruit is a fleshy drupe containing a single seed; it is edible in many species.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Succeeds in most soils that are well-drained. Prefers a light sandy soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in poor and dry soils. Very drought and wind resistant. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus.
Through seeds – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. It should germinate in late winter or early spring, though it may take 18 months. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate, often taking more than 18 months. A warm stratification for 4 weeks followed by 12 weeks cold stratification can help. The seed usually (eventually) germinates quite well. Prick out the seedlings into individual pot as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out when they are at least 15cm tall. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 – 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, 10 – 12cm with a heel, October/November in a frame. The cuttings are rather slow and difficult to root, leave them for 12 months. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months.
Fruits are edible eaten – raw or cooked. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent. The ovoid fruit is up to 16mm long and contains a single large seed.
The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.